Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pete Sessions votes against extension of unemployment benefits

Last week, the House passed H.R. 3548 to extend unemployment benefits beyond the current limitation of 13 weeks; the bill passed with a 2/3 majority, 331-83, with Pete Sessions joining the minority of those who voted no (see Roll No. 722).

Middle Class Supports. While economists see signs of economic recovery, 14.9 million unemployed Americans still cannot find work. The unemployment rate continues to rise and now stands at 9.7%, keeping middle-class Americans at risk of being thrown out of work as a result of the economic downturn. According to the National Employment Law Project, 5 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or longer and half of the unemployed cannot find jobs within the first six months of receiving unemployment insurance benefits. There are 6 jobless workers for every job opening. Recent extensions of the duration of unemployment benefits have been necessary but insufficient: 400,000 unemployed workers will have exhausted their benefits by the end of September, a number that will increase to a devastating 1.3 million by the end of the year.

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act would ease the financial pain associated with long-term unemployment. Unemployment benefits provide direct assistance to the current and aspiring middle-class Americans likely to be hardest hit during the economic downturn, people who want to work but have lost their means of support through no fault of their own...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pete Sessions votes to Defund Military Industrial Complex!

Pete Sessions was one of the first members of Congress to co-sponsor John Boehner's bill, H.R. 3571, to cut off Federal funding to "Any organization that has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency."

The bill was intended as a "de-fund ACORN" measure, but Democrats figured out right away that the broad wording of the bill could also cut funds to a long list of military contractors, effectively defunding the "military industrial complex."

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who's Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.
The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 345-75, and the Project on Government Oversight is working on building a database of organizations that have defrauded the government:
At last count, it includes 87 instances of government contract fraud – federal and state – involving 43 contractors. You might want to focus on Lockheed Martin, which has 11 government contract fraud instances, or Northrop Grumman with 9 contract fraud instances including this $325 million False Claims Act settlement from earlier this year.
Bear in mind that, since 1994, ACORN has reportedly received a total of $53 million in federal funds, or an average of roughly $3.5 million per year. In contrast, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman respectively received over $35 billion and $18 billion in federal contracts last year. (Their totals since 2000 are $266 billion for Lockheed and $125 billion for Northrop.)
If you'd like to help Representative Alan Grayson build a list of organizations that have committed fraud against the government, contact him at this link: Help Rep. Grayson Find Fraud (and, yes, they've got Blackwater already).

Pete Sessions votes against civil discourse

As expected, Pete Sessions voted against the resolution disapproving of Joe Wilson's outburst during the President's speech to the joint session of Congress.

Sessions Watchers thinks that Congress should always strive for civil discourse, and that members should set an example for the public by practicing civil discourse at all times.

Of all people, Pete Sessions should be at the forefront of promoting civil discourse. After all, Pete Sessions is an Eagle Scout, as he likes to remind us:
Congressman Sessions is an Eagle Scout and a former Scout Master for 13 Eagle Scouts. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1999, Congressman Sessions was honored as a recipient of the National Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for service to his community as a Representative in Congress and for his commitment to furthering the role of the Boy Scouts of America in the lives of young men in the Dallas Community.
Is that what they teach in Scouting, that it's all right to show open disrespect for the President of the United States?

As we recall, Pete Sessions doesn't like it very much when the shouts of disapproval are directed at him. We all remember the 2008 town hall when Pete Sessions blamed the economic meltdown on "community organizers" and one person booed. Pete Sessions was so upset that he ran out the back door after the debate, without sticking around to visit with constituents. You'd think that experience alone would cause him to demand more civility in our national discourse over complicated issues like health care. But no, Pete Sessions thinks it's alright to disrupt people when they're speaking--but don't do it to him, 'cause that makes him mad.

The House resolution passed 240 to 179, with 5 voting present; commentary and roll call information is available at Congress.Org

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pete Sessions defends hate speech

A few weeks ago, one of our Sessions Watchers who served as an observer in Northern Ireland commented that the rhetoric on right-wing radio was similar to the hate speech broadcast on TV and radio during "the Troubles":
Ian Paisley would preach sermons referring to the Pope as "the Antichrist," and later, somebody would throw a petrol bomb through the window of a Catholic home. Two human rights lawyers were killed--Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane--and shortly before I went over, three little boys were burned to death in their beds after a Loyalist firebombed their house. I used to discuss the issue of our First Amendment rights with Irish people, talking about the right to anything you want in a public forum, tempered by the responsibility to tone down inflammatory speech that might prompt an unstable person to take direct action...this teabagger stuff is getting out of control, and I think Congress should take the lead in telling these "town brawl" protesters to knock it off before somebody gets killed!
Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did just that, comparing anti-Obama rhetoric to the hate speech in the 1970s that lead to the assassination of Harvey Milk and George Moscone:
Pelosi, responding to a question about anti-Obama sentiment, said that partisans on all sides of an issue have the right to voice their opinion. But after pausing, she added: "I have concerns about some of the language that is being used, because I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco. This kind of rhetoric was very frightening, and it created a climate in which violence took place...Our country is great because people can say what they think and they believe. But I also think that they have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may cause," she said.
And, speaking in support of the haters, our own Pete Sessions, who either doesn't get it, or pretends to not understand how a mentally unbalanced person might be moved to react by a fiery speech at a tea party rally:
"The speaker is now likening genuine opposition to assassination," said Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Such insulting rhetoric not only undermines the credibility of her office, but it underscores the desperate attempt by her party to divert attention away from a failing agenda..."The speaker's verbal assault on voters accomplishes nothing other than furthering her reputation for being wildly out of touch with the American people," Sessions responded."
What an embarassment. It's all political point-scoring with our congressman. Pete Sessions should tend to his own affairs before calling someone else "wildly out of touch with the American people." One of his constituents, blogger alaprst, just wrote this piece for Burnt Orange Report: TX-32: Sessions Defends Extreme Teabagger Rhetoric:
Excuse me if I get a bit emotional, but I couldn't be more ashamed that Pete Sessions represents my congressional district (TX-32) than I am now.
It's bad enough that Sessions dishonestly claims that healthcare reform has been rejected by the American people when in fact poll after poll shows the completely opposite conclusion...

...Now Sessions has, in effect, allied with those who have toted guns during presidential events and have made hints of violence in placards seen during last week's teabagger protests.

Folks have a right to express their opinions, including those that strongly disagree with President Obama's policies and those of the Democratic leadership. But when my area's representative who also happens to be one of the main House Republicans made the statements that he did, it requires more than just mere comment. It requires that strong action be made to assure his defeat next year...
Read the whole piece at Burnt Orange Report, and be sure to give the writer a recommend.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pete Sessions votes against student loan overhaul

In a near-party line vote, the House passed H.R. 3221 which would shift student loan financing to federal programs, away from private banks. From Chicago Tribune:
The bill, passed on a party-line vote of 253-171, would save $87 billion over 10 years by abolishing subsidies to banks that have been criticized as excessive, supporters said. Most of the money saved would be channeled to increases in Pell grants for low-income students.

"We can either keep sending these subsidies to banks or we can start sending them directly to students," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., lead sponsor of the bill.
According to Dallas Morning News, Texas ranks second in the nation in student loan defaults; still, no Republicans in the Texas delegation cross party lines to support this bill (see Roll No. 719)

Pete Sessions votes against Advanced Vehicle Technology Act

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 3246, to provide for a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application in vehicle technologies at the Department of Energy, by a yea-and-nay vote of 312 yeas to 114 nays, Roll No. 709.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pete Sessions votes against nature trails--again

You'd think an Eagle Scout would be the last person to vote against nature trails, but Pete Sessions does it every time. On Thursday, he did it again, voting against H.R. 965, which provides continuing authorization of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network. The bill passed 311-107 (see Roll no. 695).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lobbyist sues in wake of blimp pork

From Politico:
A former aide to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has filed suit against the company for whom he helped secure a controversial $1.6 million earmark for a blimp project last year...

...According to his lawsuit, Plesha and Ferguson signed a contract in February 2007 under which Plesha, who is Sessions’s former communications director, would get $20,000 per month for one year, plus an option for a second year at the same rate, for a total of $480,000.

The lawsuit states that “as a direct result of Plesha’s services in 2007 through 2008, Plesha was able to secure a $1.6 million appropriation for defendants in September 2008..
Watch this space to see if anything sticks to Teflon Pete.